The national biosecurity standard, developed in a partnership between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), outlines particular on-farm principles that will help Canadian beef producers prevent and mitigate disease from entering the country’s beef sector.
The standard also details the management of risks associated with animal movement, the on-farm management of people, vehicles, equipment and tools, as well as animal health practices and greater education for producers on disease control.
Guy Gravelle, a spokesperson for CIFA, said: “The standard addresses those practices that prevent or mitigate disease from entering, spreading within or being released from beef operations. This includes both domestic and foreign animal diseases, including reportable disease such as foot-and-mouth disease and BSE.”
CIFA and CCA developed the standard over two years, following consultation with producers, industry associations and provincial governments. While the practices are specific to the Canadian market, CIFA took into account biosecurity elements from other countries, including the USA, Australia and countries in Europe.
“The beef cattle biosecurity standard and all other biosecurity standards in Canada are voluntary,” said Rob McNabb, general manager of operations at CCA. “The next couple of years will be awareness and education of the standard for producers. At some point, there may be discussion of a formal training and certification (with audit) process but that is premature at this time.”
While the standard is expected to help strengthen the Canadian beef sector, McNabb said he did not expect to see a dramatic impact on the country’s beef exports: “Our trade access is not contingent on having a biosecurity standard. It does not replace the regulations we have in place for feed bans and disposing of SRMs, which address BSE to the satisfaction of OIE and our trading partners.”
Rich Smith, executive director of Alberta Beef Producers, agreed that while the standard is an important step towards a stronger Canadian beef market, the national biosecurity standard will not help boost international exports by itself.
“Biosecurity is an important part of animal health and disease management and we do use our robust food safety and animal health management systems to promote Canadian and Alberta beef and to help us maintain or increase our access to export markets,” said Smith. “In this context, the national biosecurity standard will be a positive step forward for the industry.”